February 2017 Meeting

An Evening with the State Apiarist

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, February 8th, Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the presentation.

We will be visiting with, Maine’s new Apiarist, Jennifer Lund.  Ms. Lund will speak to the group on how Maine’s Apiary program helps prevent the introduction and spread of regulated honey bee diseases, parasites, and undesirable genetic material in resident and migratory honey bee colonies.  The meeting will be held at the vestry building of the West Auburn Congregational Church, 811 West Auburn Rd, Auburn, ME 04210. All are welcome.

Jennifer Lund has a Master’s degree in Entomology from the University of Maine and has almost 20 years of entomological experience.  Before becoming the State Apiarist, Jennifer was a research technician in the entomology department at the University of Maine in Orono.

Some of the honeybee projects she has worked on over the years include a national colony collapse disorder study, honeybee colony health comparisons of top bar and Langstrom hives, integrated Varroa mite control effectiveness, the role of honeybees as vectors of blueberry disease, sub-lethal effects on colonies to low level pesticide exposure, and health of migratory hives arriving in the State of Maine for blueberry pollination.  Jennifer is passionate about honeybee health and helping beekeepers succeed.  Aside from managing the honeybee inspection program and helping Maine beekeepers protect their hives, Jennifer also has several of her own hives that she maintains on her farm in Arglye Township, Maine.
Upcoming Events:

  • March 8th:  Grace Kenney, Bates ’16, CT Audubon Society.  Topic:  “The Birds and the Bees”. 
  • April 9th:  David Spicer, President, Knox-Lincoln Beekeepers.  Master bee-keeper and co-owner of Spicer Bees, a firm founded when Rick Cooper retired, to offer his same services to the mid-coast and central Maine.  Topic TBA, but David was the organizer of the MSBA conferences for the last two years. http://spicerbees.com/  [207 549-5480, spicertree@aol.com ]

For more information about the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club, please visit our website at http://androscogginbeekeepers.org.



January 2017 Meeting Announcement

ABC Presents:Potluck Supper…and a Preview of Upcoming Meetings

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, January 11, 2017 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at the vestry of the West Auburn Congregational Church, 811 West Auburn Road, Auburn, ME 04210.
Last year we tried a new meeting format, of a bee-themed potluck supper.  People seemed to enjoy it, and we are proposing another potluck for our January 11th meeting.  If you can, bring something with honey as an ingredient, but come even if you haven’t got the energy or ingredients to cook; there will be plenty.  Bill will provide a main dish, and if you can, let him know what you intend to bring: whiss@bates.edu.  The supper will be in our usual meeting spot, the vestry building of the West Auburn Congregational Church, 811 West Auburn Road.  The vestry has a large cook stove, so easy to warm something up. We will also have our usual business meeting, to hear how people’s hives are doing.

To give you a sense of what’s on tap throughout the rest of Winter 2017, here’s what Bill has lined up for us:

  • Feb. 8th:  Jennifer Lund, Maine State Apiarist.  That’s right! Following the recent retirement of Tony Jadzack, Maine now has a new state apiarist.  Jennifer has accepted an invitation to come out and speak with our Club.  Even is you are a causal attendee to the ABC meetings, this is one you won’t want to miss.
  • March 8th:  Grace Kenney, Bates ’16, CT Audubon Society.  Topic:  “The Birds and the Bees”.
  • April 9th:  David Spicer, President, Knox-Lincoln Beekeepers.  Master bee-keeper and co-owner of Spicer Bees, a firm founded when Rick Cooper retired, to offer his same services to the mid-coast and central Maine.  Topic TBA, but David was the organizer of the MSBA conferences for the last two years. http://spicerbees.com/  [207 549-5480spicertree@aol.com ]
Happy New Year!

November 2016 ABC Meeting Announcement


Photograph credit Johnathan Neufeld.

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, November 9 at the vestry of the West Auburn Congregational Church, 811 West Auburn Road, Auburn, ME 04210.  Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the presentation “Cooperation and conflict between plants and their pollinators”.

Our November speaker will be Dr. Carla Essenberg.  Dr. Essenberg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Bates College. She completed a BA in Music and Philosophy at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, did her PhD in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at the University of California-Riverside, and recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona. Her research explores ways in which pollinator foraging behavior influence plant ecology and evolution and includes ecological field studies, theoretical modeling, and behavioral experiments with bumblebees. She teaches statistics and ecology and enjoys discussing science and bees with people of all ages and walks of life.

Dr. Essenberg’s presentation will give a plant’s perspective on pollinators and explore, in plants, characteristics that we may be used to thinking of as uniquely human: cheating and cooperation, deception and honesty. Usually, plants and their pollinators cooperate with each other: the plants give their pollinators food, such as nectar and pollen, and the pollinators carry the plants’ pollen from one individual to another, allowing them to mate with each other. However, some plant species (possibly including some of your favorite orchids) are deceptive cheats that lure pollinators to themselves with showy flowers but provide no rewards. Many other species seem to have taken a more subtle approach to cheating: they make some flowers that are rewarding and others that are not. However, things get really interesting when you look closely at the flowers of these species, because in many cases, they provide pollinators with information about how rewarding (or unrewarding) they are.

Why should plants reveal to pollinators that some of their flowers are not worth visiting? Dr. Essenberg will describe the efforts she and her students have made to explain this puzzling example of honesty.

October 2016 Meeting Announcement and Open Hive Reminder

Androscoggin Beekeepers ClubOctober 2016 Meeting Announcement and Open Hive Reminder

Fall Open Hive:

First, please remember that this Sunday (October 2), Moe Morissette has graciously volunteered to host an open hive at his apiary.  As we have traditionally done these in the summer, this could be a good time to see what someone else’s hives look like going into Fall/Winter.  Here are the details:

Who: Moe Morissette

When: 10:30 am Sunday October 2
Where: 81 Leeds Junction Rd, Leeds, ME 04263

And, if that were not already enough…

First Official Club Meeting for the Fall of 2016:

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held:

When: Wednesday, October 5

Where: At the vestry of the West Auburn Congregational Church

811 West Auburn Road, Auburn, ME 04210

Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the presentation focusing on advice about mite treatments going into Fall/Winter.  Light refreshments will be provided.
Our October speaker will be Chris Rogers of Backwoods Bee Farm in Windham: http://www.backwoodsbeefarm.com/.  Chris is an EAS master beekeeper who has spoken to the club several times in the past and has graciously agreed to do so again.  As with similar visits, if you contact Chris before the meeting about any beekeeping supplies you need, he can bring them to the meeting and you can pay for them there.  Very convenient.

A Call for New Club Officers (President and Vice President):

Lastly, please be thinking about volunteering to be an ABC club officer.  I think both Bill (Club President) and I (Vice President) are seeing the end of the calendar year as a good place to turn over the reigns to the next crew.  To this point there have been about three distinct phases for the club and it feels right that we should be planning for a fresh group to take over.  If we don’t get any volunteers, there’s even a good chance that we might approach some of you directly.  😉

No ABC Meeting September 14, 2016

The Androscoggin Beekeepers Club will not be having a formal meeting next Wednesday (September 14). 

Initially, we’d planned to change things up by having a pair of fall open hive meetings (one in September and another in October).  In the past, we’ve had these open hive meetings in the summer and we thought doing it in the early/mid fall would allow us all to see and talk about a different stage of the beekeeping season.

After lining up locations to host each open hive, our September volunteer had to withdraw.  So, unless someone else would like to volunteer to host a hive opening on either September 24 or 25, this leaves us with an empty plate for September. 

If you’d like to host, please contact Bill Hiss at whiss@bates.edu.

We are set for October, however, and we will gather at:

The apiary of Moe Morissette

332 Leeds Junction Road
Wales, Maine

Sunday, October 2, 2016

 10:30 AM

Swan’s Honey Open Hive Day: May 7, 2016

Swan’s Honey is having an Open Hive Day:
Saturday May 7th, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
332 Bessey Ridge Road
Albion, ME 04910

There will be live bees on the premises!
The event is free and open to anyone interested in beekeeping.  Demonstrations and hands-on workshops held hourly on different topics include:
  • Splitting bees
  • Evaluating Queens and Nucleus Hives
  • Introducing mated queens
  • Mite monitoring
  • Mite treatment applications including oxalic acid, Mite Away Quick Strips, and Apivar
  • Tours of honey extracting and processing

All events are free, lunch is included, and there will be door prizes!

The Swan supply store will be open 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM for bee equipment purchases.

RSVP by email to swanshoney@roadrunner.com

April 2016 ABC Meeting Announcement


MSBA President Richard McLaughlin will present “Honey bee colony removal from buildings” to the ABC on April 13, 2016.

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, April 13 at the vestry of the West Auburn Congregational Church, 811 West Auburn Road, Auburn, ME 04210. Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the presentation “Honey Bee Colony Removals from Buildings”.

Our April speaker will be Maine State Beekeepers Association President Richard McLaughlin of Springvale, ME. Richard has been keeping bees since 2009 and maintains 20-25 colonies across York County. He is currently the MSBA President and has been serving the board since 2010. He is a member and past president of the York County Beekeepers Association (YCBA), a member of the Cumberland County Beekeepers, and the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS).

As an EAS Master Beekeeper, Richard is involved in beekeeper and community education and the mentoring of new beekeepers. He is an active member of the MSBA and YCBA swarm teams and removes honey bee colonies from buildings and high places. He will be presenting the topic of “Honey Bee Colony Removals from Buildings.” The presentation answers the questions: Where do honey bees go when they move into a building? What does the natural colony look like without the structure the beekeeper gives them? Is it dangerous to remove bees from a structure? and What is involved in the task?

Richard’s ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.

March 2016 ABC Meeting Announcement


A Honey of a Potluck Supper
The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, March 9 at the vestry of the West Auburn Congregational Church, 811 West Auburn Road, Auburn, ME 04210.  Note that we will no longer be meeting at Edward Little High School in Auburn.  This casual gathering will run from ~6:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

As discussed at the February meeting, members of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club are hosting a potluck supper for those interested in hearing more about bee-keeping.  All the dishes at the supper will include honey as an ingredient, and are being prepared by members of our Club.  Open to the public, and intended for people interested in considering bee-keeping to have a delicious supper and then an informal conversation and Q&A with our beekeeper club members.  No charge, but donations accepted.

This will be a great opportunity to chat with beekeepers of many stripes.  Club members will also have more time to chat among themselves than we do on nights with scheduled presentations.  With Spring fast approaching, there is a lot to talk about!

And, of course, this is also the perfect opportunity to try out that honey-infused recipe you’ve been saving!

If you have any questions about this event, feel free to contact Club President Bill Hiss at whiss@bates.edu.

Maine State Apiarist Announces Oxalic Acid Registration in Maine for Treatment Against Varroa Mites

As additional follow up on oxalic acid (OA) discussions at the January 2016 Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) meeting, ABC VP contacted Maine State Apiarist Tony Jadzak for the official word on both the registration of oxalic acid in Maine for use against Varroa destructor in honey bee hives and recommended methods of OA treatment.

In response, Tony provided the ABC with a copy of a document he prepared titled “Oxalic Acid Registered for Varroa Control“.  This document had already been provided to the Maine State Beekeeper’s Association (MSBA).

A PDF version of the original Microsoft Word document Tony provided is available here.  For the convenience of ABC members and interested individuals, we’ve reproduced the text of Tony’s document below.

Note that Tony concludes his description with the words: “Please read and follow the label.  Remember, ‘The label is the law’.”  Tony was also kind enough to send a PDF copy of the label and you can access it from the following link:

EPA label for Oxalic Acid Dihydrate (number 91266-1-91832)


Oxalic Acid Registered for Varroa Control by Tony Jadczak

The toxicity of oxalic acid (OA) to Varroa has been known for nearly three decades based on experiments conducted in Asia and later in Europe.  The initial tests compared spraying weak OA solutions on bees, trickling OA sugar syrups into honey bee colonies  and OA fumigation (vaporization).  All of these methods demonstrated very high efficacy and were quickly adopted by beekeepers.

Early use of OA by European beekeepers involved spraying each comb of bees in broodless colonies with a 2%- 3% OA water solution.  The technique was effective but time consuming since each comb covered with bees had to removed and sprayed on both sides for control.  The treatment was later modified to make the application more efficient by adding the OA into sugar syrup and “trickling” 5-6 ml on the bees clustered between combs.  The role of sugar is unclear since minimal OA syrup is consumed by the bees and mite mortality is from contact with the acid.  It is thought that the sugar solution adheres to bees better or the sucrose makes the solution more hygroscopic

During the 1990’s European bee researchers tested the effects of different OA concentrations and syrup solutions on both the mite and bees via the trickle method.  Researchers found optimal Varroa control at OA concentrations between 2.1% and 4.2% with concentrations of 2.8% and 3.5% the best regarding mite mortality and minimal damage to bees.  Researchers also compared Varroa mortality in OA treated hives when brood was present vs. absent.  Varroa mortality in hives with brood was 25% and 39.2% at the 2.9% and 4.2% OA concentrations and 97% and 99.4% respectively under broodless conditions.  Experiments indicate that increasing the dosage of OA above 3.5% does not improve efficacy and high doses of OA aren’t used due to bee toxicity.  Research clearly demonstrates that OA is most effective in broodless colonies for both the trickle and fumigation techniques.  The application of OA via trickle or vaporization in late fall/early winter affords beekeepers and excellent varroa “cleanup” for colonies with residual mite populations that rebound after late summer varroa treatments and/or hives that become reinfested by robbing hives undergoing varroa collapse.

As is the case with other registered Varroa controls, researchers have also identified issues related to the OA trickle treatment.  For example: 1-When brood is present repeated applications of OA can result in higher queen and adult bee mortality and a reduction in the amount of brood that can last for two months.  2- The midguts of honey bees fed OA sugar syrup have an elevated level of cell death but under field conditions bees tend to avoid consuming syrup with OA. (This may explain why a recent report stated that bees treated with OA have a lower nosema incidence.)  3- In some instances bees show poor tolerance to OA trickle applications.  Colonies receiving an overdose (excessive amounts, short –term repeated applications or excessive concentrations) can be weak in spring or die during winter.  Some studies have found that certain colonies do not tolerate the OA trickle even at normal doses.  4- Low temperatures can diminish the efficacy of OA treatment. 5- There may be a correlation with increased bee mortality when applied during periods of high humidity.  Further research regarding high environmental humidity is needed.  6- Prolonged storage of OA syrup solutions result in a change of color to brown.  Analysis indicates a high increase in hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) that may be toxic to the bees if ingested. As a precaution, it is recommended that beekeepers administer freshly prepared solutions of OA syrup or use premixed solutions that are stored in the refrigerator.  Solutions can be stored for a maximum of 6 months at a storage temperature of 59 degrees.

Following are European recommendations and remarks for OA trickle treatment or the “Solution Method” as it is called on the US EPA label.  Some of these recommendations appear on the US Oxalic Acid Dihydrate label.

·         Trickle 5ml of OA solution directly on the bees clustered between the frames (occupied bee space) in each hive body.

·         The maximum dose of OA solution is 50ml. (i.e. 30ml for a small colony, 40ml for a medium-sized colony, and 50ml for a large colony.

·         Use only in late fall or early spring when little or no brood is present.  The European recommendation: carry out one treatment in broodless hives only in autumn (Nov.-Dec.).

·         Treat with lukewarm solution.

·         Apply treatment at an outdoor temperature above freezing (32 degrees).

·         Use only freshly made-up solutions or those stored for no more than 6 months at a maximum of 59 degrees.

·         Do not use when honey supers are in place.

·         Apply only when monitoring indicates treatment is required.

·         Wear gloves, safety goggles and respiratory protection during treatment.

There is much less published literature regarding OA heat vaporization (sublimation) in comparison to the OA trickle method.  Research and reports from beekeepers indicate that the vaporization technique does have some advantages.  Research suggests it is less detrimental to adult bees, brood and hive strength following application and from the beekeeper’s perspective, there is no need to unwrap, open hives and disturb the cluster during winter.   The risk to the applicator, however, is somewhat greater due to the potential of inhalation of the OA fumes.

European research indicates that when brood is present, vaporization 3-4 times at weekly intervals in spring is an effective Varroa control. However, the US OA label does not address this strategy and European recommendations prescribe treatments during broodless periods at temperatures between 35-61 degrees.

There are two methods used to vaporize (sublimate) OA, passive and active.  The passive method involves placing the prescribed amount of OA (1 gram/hive body) onto a mini battery powered heat plate that is inserted into the hive’s entrance.  After insertion the hive entrance is closed with foam or a piece of cloth and the electricity is applied. The crystals melt and sublime into smaller crystals that disperse within the hive covering the bees and hive interior.  All other entrances and openings such as cracks must be closed or taped shut so the fumes don’t escape and reduce treatment efficacy.  It takes approximately 3 minutes for the OA to sublimate and it is recommended that the hives remain closed off for 10-15 minutes after treatment.  There are several passive Varroa vaporizers on the market.  Examples include the: Varrox-vaporizer from Switzerland, Heilyser Technology vaporizer from Canada, Varroa cleaner from Serbia and Kiwi Vaporizer from New Zealand.  There are other home-made vaporizer designs marketed.

The other method of OA vaporization is the active method in which the OA crystals are heated within a container until sublimation occurs outside the hive.  After sublimation, vapor is blown into the hive entrance.  These gizmos typically require a heat gun, source of electricity and air compressor for some of the designs.   Lega bee supply from Italy markets one of the designs.  For some entertainment, do a google search on commercially available and homemade OA vaporizing contraptions.  Some of the designs featured on YouTube do not appear to be safe or effective!

As is the case with the OA trickle application, the efficacy of OA vaporization may be reduced when applied in cold temperatures when bees are in tight cluster since the crystals do not penetrate into the clustered bees.  Likewise, high humidity during treatment may reduce treatment efficacy.  Active methods of vaporization are said to work better than passive vaporization when bees are in tight cluster.

It is imperative for beekeepers to read the Oxalic Acid Dihydrate label prior to use and follow the directions.  Although OA is considered an organic mite control, it has a “Danger-Poison” signal word on the label meaning it is highly toxic and corrosive.  Beekeepers need to adhere to the personal protection label requirements and the personal protection equipment (PPE) statements.  Do not apply OA to hives of bees with supers in place so honey is not contaminated with this toxic substance.

Late fall or early winter Varroa treatment with oxalic acid is a valuable component for honey bee pest management.  The use, efficacy and safety are well-documented in Europe and elsewhere when used properly in accordance with label instructions.  With time and experience, Maine beekeepers will find that OA treatment fits an important need as a Varroa “clean-up” that will ensure healthy hives in spring. Please read and follow the label.  Remember, “The label is the law”.


January 2016 ABC Digest

mitesondrone_14-05-08_0053_cropYouth Scholarship Available for Attending 2016 EAS Meeting

We have been asked to forward the following information regarding and application for a youth scholarship to support cost associated with attending the 2016 EAS conference being held in Gallway, NJ.

The Mann Lake Scholarship was established to encourage a worthy young individual to pursue an interest in honey bees and beekeeping.  The Scholarship will provide financial assistance for the selected candidate to attend an annual EAS conference.  In addition to the waiver of registration fees by EAS for the short course and the main conference, the Scholarship will provide up to $1,000 to the successful candidate to offset other conference expenses.

This year the annual EAS conference is at Stockton University in Galloway, NJ, July 25 – 29.

You can access the application form for this scholarship from the following link:

Please contact Peggy McLaughlin (peggy@apidoro.com) with questions.

It’s Time to Sign Up for Your Beginning Beekeeping Class

If you or someone you know is interested in taking a beginning beekeeping class (aka  attending a “bee school”), now is the time to find one and to register.  Most beginning bee schools are taught in late winter to allow new beekeepers to prepare for the upcoming bee season.

Several bee schools are listed on the Maine State Beekeepers Association (MSBA) Web Site which you can access from the following link:

MSBA Bee School Listing

In addition to the many bee schools listed on the MSBA site, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is also offering a short beginner’s course in Unity, Maine at their Common Ground Education Center. For information about fees and registration openings, please consult the MOFGA events page.

Some Winter Reading About Oxalic Acid Mite Treatment

At our January 2016 ABC meeting, we spoke briefly about the fact that the EPA recently registered oxalic acid for use as an anti-mite treatment in honey bee hives. You can read about that here:

EPA Registers New Miticide to Combat Varroa Mites in Bees

As you begin your research on OA as a miticide, you will probably have a lot of questions. One thing that you will see is that 100% OA is available as an inexpensive wood bleach and some beekeepers have been using this for years. It’s important to be aware that the OA you might purchase from a beekeeping supplier (like Brushy Mountain) will be SIGNIFICANTLY less concentrated. If you decide to go the OA route, be sure you know exactly how to proceed to keep yourself and your bees safe. For some great information about this, I’d recommend the article “OXALIC ACID: EFFECTIVE & EASY ON BEES, BUT . . .” by Jennifer Berry published March 2015 in Bee Culture Magazine.  You can access the article online from the Bee Culture website.

If you are interested in a longer (but still freely available) read, I’d recommend the following Doctoral dissertation:
An Investigation of Techniques for Using Oxalic Acid to Reduce Varroa Mite Populations in Honey Bee Colonies and Package Bees” by Nicholas Aliano in 2008.

Don’t let the fact that its a doctoral dissertation put you off. This thing is very readable and contains some real data. To dig into the part(s) that interest you the most, just scan the table of contents after downloading the pdf.

During our group discussion at the January ABC meeting, I mentioned that Randy Oliver (writer of the popular beekeeping web site “Scientific Beekeeping: Beekeeping Through the Eyes of a Biologist“) has posted at length about his use of oxalic acid in his hives.

Randy recently updated a Powerpoint presentation he created about the use of oxalic acid. You can access the file and read some interesting information regarding OA treatments from his ScientificBeekeeping website.

If you’ve never visited the Scientific Beekeeping site, I highly recommend it. Note that this is not an endorsement of everything on the site, but I will say that there is a lot of interesting information and discussion about honey bees on the site.